Archive for the ‘Psychological Science in the Public Interest’ Category

The Impact of Mental Illness Stigma on Seeking and Participating in Mental Health Care

October 1, 2014 Comments off

The Impact of Mental Illness Stigma on Seeking and Participating in Mental Health Care
Source: Psychological Science in the Public Interest

Treatments have been developed and tested to successfully reduce the symptoms and disabilities of many mental illnesses. Unfortunately, people distressed by these illnesses often do not seek out services or choose to fully engage in them. One factor that impedes care seeking and undermines the service system is mental illness stigma. In this article, we review the complex elements of stigma in order to understand its impact on participating in care. We then summarize public policy considerations in seeking to tackle stigma in order to improve treatment engagement. Stigma is a complex construct that includes public, self, and structural components. It directly affects people with mental illness, as well as their support system, provider network, and community resources. The effects of stigma are moderated by knowledge of mental illness and cultural relevance. Understanding stigma is central to reducing its negative impact on care seeking and treatment engagement. Separate strategies have evolved for counteracting the effects of public, self, and structural stigma. Programs for mental health providers may be especially fruitful for promoting care engagement. Mental health literacy, cultural competence, and family engagement campaigns also mitigate stigma’s adverse impact on care seeking. Policy change is essential to overcome the structural stigma that undermines government agendas meant to promote mental health care. Implications for expanding the research program on the connection between stigma and care seeking are discussed.

Improving Students’ Learning With Effective Learning Techniques: Promising Directions From Cognitive and Educational Psychology

August 29, 2013 Comments off

Improving Students’ Learning With Effective Learning Techniques: Promising Directions From Cognitive and Educational Psychology (PDF)
Source: Psychological Science in the Public Interest

Many students are being left behind by an educational system that some people believe is in crisis. Improving educational outcomes will require efforts on many fronts, but a central premise of this monograph is that one part of a solution involves helping students to better regulate their learning through the use of effective learning techniques. Fortunately, cognitive and educational psychologists have been developing and evaluating easy-to-use learning techniques that could help students achieve their learning goals. In this monograph, we discuss 10 learning techniques in detail and offer recommendations about their relative utility. We selected techniques that were expected to be relatively easy to use and hence could be adopted by many students. Also, some techniques (e.g., highlighting and rereading) were selected because students report relying heavily on them, which makes it especially important to examine how well they work. The techniques include elaborative interrogation, self-explanation, summarization, highlighting (or underlining), the keyword mnemonic, imagery use for text learning, rereading, practice testing, distributed practice, and interleaved practice.

Challenges and Successes in Dissemination of Evidence-Based Treatments for Posttraumatic Stress: Lessons Learned From Prolonged Exposure Therapy for PTSD

April 12, 2013 Comments off

Challenges and Successes in Dissemination of Evidence-Based Treatments for Posttraumatic Stress: Lessons Learned From Prolonged Exposure Therapy for PTSD

Source: Psychological Science in the Public Interest

Each year, millions of individuals experience a trauma — whether it is a car accident, an assault, an injury, or a natural disaster. Although many individuals recover from a traumatic event, others go on to develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — an anxiety disorder characterized by severe and persistent stress reactions in response to the trauma.

The individual and societal effects of PTSD are great; therefore, it is imperative to treat PTSD using the best and most effective methods available, as backed by psychological science. In this report, Edna B. Foa (University of Pennsylvania), Seth J. Gillihan (University of Pennsylvania), and Richard A. Bryant (University of New South Wales) review research examining evidence-based treatments (EBTs) for PTSD and the challenges disseminating these treatments on a local, national, and international scale.

One EBT specifically identified by the authors as having consistent success in reducing PTSD symptoms is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy known as prolonged exposure (PE). In PE therapy, individuals are asked to approach — in both imaginary and real-life settings — situations, places, and people they have been avoiding. The repeated exposure to the perceived threat disconfirms individuals’ expectations of experiencing harm and over time leads to a reduction in their fear.

Despite the existence of highly effective treatments such as PE therapy, few clinicians use such treatments. Why might this be the case? The authors cite lack of training in EBTs, skepticism that EBTs work better than currently used treatments, and significant costs associated with dissemination models.

Although there are many barriers to adopting and spreading the use of EBTs, the authors describe several examples of their own successful dissemination of PE therapy in both developed and developing countries. These real-world examples highlight the barriers that can occur during the dissemination of EBTs and provide guidance on how common obstacles can be overcome.

Although the authors have had success disseminating PE therapy on a smaller scale, larger scale dissemination efforts will require the cooperation of many different agencies, including training and professional organizations, government agencies, insurers, health care providers, and the media. Working together, these organizations can help spread the use of effective treatments for PTSD and reduce the individual and public health burden associated with this disorder.

Misinformation and Its Correction: Continued Influence and Successful Debiasing

September 20, 2012 Comments off

Misinformation and Its Correction: Continued Influence and Successful Debiasing
Source: Psychological Science in the Public Interest

The widespread prevalence and persistence of misinformation in contemporary societies, such as the false belief that there is a link between childhood vaccinations and autism, is a matter of public concern. For example, the myths surrounding vaccinations, which prompted some parents to withhold immunization from their children, have led to a marked increase in vaccine-preventable disease, as well as unnecessary public expenditure on research and public-information campaigns aimed at rectifying the situation.

We first examine the mechanisms by which such misinformation is disseminated in society, both inadvertently and purposely. Misinformation can originate from rumors but also from works of fiction, governments and politicians, and vested interests. Moreover, changes in the media landscape, including the arrival of the Internet, have fundamentally influenced the ways in which information is communicated and misinformation is spread.

We next move to misinformation at the level of the individual, and review the cognitive factors that often render misinformation resistant to correction. We consider how people assess the truth of statements and what makes people believe certain things but not others. We look at people’s memory for misinformation and answer the questions of why retractions of misinformation are so ineffective in memory updating and why efforts to retract misinformation can even backfire and, ironically, increase misbelief. Though ideology and personal worldviews can be major obstacles for debiasing, there nonetheless are a number of effective techniques for reducing the impact of misinformation, and we pay special attention to these factors that aid in debiasing.

We conclude by providing specific recommendations for the debunking of misinformation. These recommendations pertain to the ways in which corrections should be designed, structured, and applied in order to maximize their impact. Grounded in cognitive psychological theory, these recommendations may help practitioners—including journalists, health professionals, educators, and science communicators—design effective misinformation retractions, educational tools, and public-information campaigns.

See: Misinformation: Why It Sticks and How to Fix It (Science Daily)

Weighing the Costs of Disaster: Consequences, Risks, and Resilience in Individuals, Families, and Communities

March 17, 2011 Comments off

Weighing the Costs of Disaster: Consequences, Risks, and Resilience in Individuals, Families, and Communities (PDF)
Source: Psychological Science in the Public Interest

Disasters typically strike quickly and cause great harm. Unfortunately, because of the spontaneous and chaotic nature of disasters, the psychological consequences have proved exceedingly difficult to assess. Published reports have often overestimated a disaster’s psychological cost to survivors, suggesting, for example, that many if not most survivors will develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD); at the same time, these reports have underestimated the scope of the disaster’s broader impact in other domains. We argue that such ambiguities can be attributed to methodological limitations. When we focus on only the most scientifically sound research—studies that use prospective designs or include multivariate analyses of predictor and outcome measures—relatively clear conclusions about the psychological parameters of disasters emerge. We summarize the major aspects of these conclusions in five key points and close with a brief review of possible implications these points suggest for disaster intervention.

See: Disaster Survivors Are More Resiliant Than We Think: A Conversation On The Psychological Impact Of The Earthquakes In New Zealand And Japan (Association for Psychological Science)